Ghana Fund Managers Say New Lender Limits Access to Savings
(Bloomberg) -- Ghana’s new state-owned lender is asking the holders of more than 1.1 billion cedis ($230 million) in investments to accept lower rates and wait five years before accessing their cash, according to an industry body for fund managers and brokers.
Consolidated Bank Ghana Ltd., which was formed in August through a merger of five failed lenders, will issue institutional investors five-year bonds yielding 7.5 percent for fixed-term savings that were held with the liquidated companies, Emmanuel Asiedu, president of the Ghana Securities Industry Association and managing director of the local unit of Stanlib Asset Management Ltd., said in an interview.
The same investors previously earned annualized rates of as much as 19 percent on savings with terms of three months to two years, said Asiedu.
“I don’t expect fund mangers who were yielding over 15 percent to be happy,” he said.
Felix Dontoh, a CBG spokesman, said the lender’s management was not readily available to respond to questions sent via text message.
CBG is issuing bonds in exchange for investors’ savings after being issued 450 million cedis in fresh capital and a 15-year bond of 5.8 billion cedis to compensate for the failed lenders’ liabilities at its formation. The five banks were closed down after the regulator sharpened up its oversight of an industry that has been beset by poor governance and weak lending.
CBG took over 3.2 billion cedis in fixed-term saving obligations from its predecessors, Asiedu said, citing figures that were discussed in meetings between the bank and the industry association. Included in the amount are investments of 560 million cedis held by fund managers and 500 million cedis owed to non-banking institutions such as microfinance firms, he said.
The remaining portion is held by government agencies and individuals, and the latter will have immediate access to their funds when the agreed term ends, Asiedu said.
The industry association has accepted CBG’s proposal even though talks are continuing on whether investors will be able to trade the bonds to give some holders faster access to their cash, said Asiedu.
“You should take the shock,” he said. “If they bailed you out there has to be some sort of hair cut, otherwise it also creates an immoral hazard.”
Support for the banking industry has cost Ghana almost 10 billion cedis over the past 18 months, Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta said last week.
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